The End Means a New Beginning for Shaun White – NBC10 Philadelphia

For the last time, Shaun White will stand atop the first half of the Olympics, clapping hands, giving his coach a 5 high and taking his snowboard, and skiing, on the ride that only he can dream.

The Beijing 2022 Olympics will be the three-time gold medalist’s fifth time, and also his last, as the 35-year-old American has become an elder statesman for his sport. him – more than twice the age of some of the racers he goes against.

Back as a dashing teenager, he appeared in a scene called “The Flying Tomato” – with his stunning red hair, wide smile, and ability to jump straight out of a half-pipe and hover over it to feel it. He comes up with tricks that no one can dream of. He won everything, made no apologies for it, and went on to prove that his sport full of rebels and traitors can also be played becoming mainstream.

Some love him. Even more in a sport that has never completely wrapped its arms around fierce competition nor. What no one can deny is that the sport has a completely different feel when White is in the mountains. In that respect, he clearly understands his role in this match. When he looks back on what he’s achieved, it happens – on February 10, two qualifying runs, then, by assumption, on February 11, three overall runs outcome – a little easier to live no matter the outcome.

“I’m proud that at my age, I’m still playing the sport,” White said. “I am honored and most proud to be able to continue to be at the top of an ever-changing sport. And for so long, to show off and do some heavy games with younger racers, that’s very inspiring for me. ”

Based on what the public has seen of White this season – barely any of his “A” documents and no health at all – there’s no visual evidence to say he should. favorite to win his fourth Olympic title.

His top competitor – Ayumu Hirano, who has two Olympic silver medals, including a silver since 2018 in arguably the most daring halfpipe competition ever – has achieved three unimaginable times in this winter competition. One of Hirano’s Japanese teammates, Ruka Hirano, has also tried it, and one or two more riders might have it in their pocket as well.

Is it white? Well, he was one of the first men to do that trick. But he gave it up, at least for a while, figured The risk is too great, and the reward too uncertain. No one has yet linked three corks as part of a complete run in a competition. (Hirano fell both times on the next jump after landing.)

White didn’t come close to trying anything too difficult in his run to the Olympics, including a poor finish, an injured ankle, a broken laces in a competition, a match with COVID-19 and a late emergency trip to Switzerland for a competition, he needs to win his spot on the USA team.

But he worked halfway in Colorado in the second half of January.

Here’s what he said in an October interview: “A lot of that stressful time will stretch into the final few weeks or a month before the Olympics. People will do what they are doing. You have to practice, you have to practice, and there will be a last-minute rush that is to finish. “

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His coach, JJ Thomas, was the first to admit that the Japanese, along with Australia’s Scotty James, would all be in favor before White heads into the Olympics, “but Shaun, he’s the one. the kind of person who can activate tomorrow and break the whole thing.”

“And I think he’s doing a great job of it and really just enjoying this pitch,” Thomas said. “I’m really proud of him, just his whole attitude and performance. I mean, there’s a lot of heavy lifting going on on that half of the pipeline. “

Though he enjoys being in the middle of it all, White feels peaceful stepping out of it.

Although the world of skiing is secret, he knows Hirano and the others are working on three corkscrews. He saw where the future of the sport was headed, and although he’s gotten stronger thanks to his new gym routine, he’s sensed the fact that when you’re 35, you’re not. right 15.

Although the decision to call it a career didn’t make it clear to him until this fall, he’s spent a lot of the past four years trying to build a life after snowboarding. .

He is in a serious relationship with Nina Dobrev, the famous actress “The Vampire Diaries”.

“I became a lot more responsible when I was in a relationship where I was responsible for a lot of things,” says White. “It’s very inspirational.”

He’s working with his brother again, Jesse, and they recently introduced a new “lifestyle brand,” Whitespace, that is more of White’s style than the sponsors who took him down. it by transactions.

Where he once found fuel in proving people wrong – “people think we are throwing our lives away for a sport that is not a ‘real’ sport, because so I always feel like I have something to prove,” he says – Now he finds the simple joy of being able to compete at such a high level for his age.

“There’s a lot of driving force behind me now that wasn’t there before,” White said. “Or at least it’s a lot different.”

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Danny Kass, a two-time Olympic silver medalist on the podium in 2006 when White won his first gold. These days, Kass is 39 years old and working as a coach. Now, like then, he marvels at where White has skied.

“It’s about what he gets out of the competition and the momentum he pulls from being competitive,” Kass said. “He’s going to give these last three runs all he has and will probably land, hopefully, one of the best runs he’s ever hit in his life.”

Based on what we’ve seen this season, if White wins a gold medal – a medal of any color, then he will prove everyone wrong again.

Based on what we’ve seen over the course of 20 years – White almost always performs best when the stakes are highest – it seems a bit premature to bet on him.

Growing up in California, Chloe Kim was always asked why she chose to ski over surfing or ice skating. However, the Olympic gold medalist says she’s just grateful to have found the sport she loves.

AP Sports writer Pat Graham contributed to this report. The End Means a New Beginning for Shaun White – NBC10 Philadelphia

Huynh Nguyen

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